It goes without saying that the best love poetry has been worked over for days and months, if not years.  Yet many of us would rather give something from the heart than from the mart, and evidence that we have thought long and hard about someone and put those thoughts down in a caring way is just about the most heartfelt expression there is.  So, don’t worry about winning a Pulitzer.  Just enjoy yourself.  (And print your poem on some pretty paper and give it a spritz of perfume, too.)

Let’s look at three poetic forms that lend themselves beautifully to speaking of love.

1.  The “Look Around You” Poem

This poem uses objects as representations of an emotion, a state of mind, or a person.  It says what you mean by showing what you see.

To write a poem about your loved one, go to a place or a room where many objects represent that person and just “speak of them.”  With luck, this will lead you to two or three lines that can wrap up the story.

Here’s a brief example, but it can go on and on.

 

You and I in the Kitchen

 

The coffee cup from that rainy vacation in Maine
(How we laughed at the ferry captain)
(Gardening does make me less grumpy)
The empty garbage can
(And I didn’t even have to ask you)
The juice glass, the cracked plate, the battered spatula
(The breakfasts you make taste best of all)
Everyday things in the once-in-a-lifetime love story that is ours
I am so grateful the one-in-three-hundred million that is mine is you.

2.  The Pantoum

This is an ancient form that depends on repetition.  In the hands of a master it can be mystical, but what is particularly wonderful about a pantoum is how its deceptive simplicity lends weight to thoughts.    The form for a three-stanza Pantoum (which requires writing only six lines) is this:

 

Line 1

Line 2

Line 3

Line 4

Line 2

Line 5

Line 4

Line 6

Line 2

Line 3

Line 4

Line 1

 

 

Here’s how one would look:

 

Our Life Together

 

You’ve made the years a joy.

As life came at us we worked hard.

We never learned the art of resting.

The fun was worth the effort.

 

As life came at us we worked hard.

Though being parents wasn’t work.

The fun was worth the effort.

All that ever mattered was love.

 

As life came at us we worked hard.

We never learned the art of resting

The fun was worth the effort.

You’ve made the years a joy.

 

See how easy it can be? It’s also important to know you are allowed to tinker with the lines in a Pantoum; they don’t need to be exactly as they were in a previous stanza. Here’s an example of how that might happen:

 

The Seasons of Our Love

 

We met in spring

We sang in summer

We loved the autumn

We survived the winter

 

We sang in summer

Even the bad seasons were good

We survived the winter

And everything else

 

We sang in summer

We loved the autumn

We survived the winter

The miracle was when we met in spring

 

3. The Imitative poem

Take a famous poem—say, ‘How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways,’ the grandma of them all (we’ll be printing it in its entirety next week) and substitute your own words.

 

 

How do I love Thee?  Let me count the ways
I love Thee to the height of our attic that needs cleaning
The depth of our basement that needs the same
And the ends of all the games we’ve watched together
When ignoring the laundry and enjoying ourselves.

I love Thee in the chaos of every day’s
Most annoying email, by sun and lamplight.
I love Thee joyfully as a child’s birthday party
I love Thee angrily after you leave the seat up
I love Thee with energy that comes out as nagging.

In my old griefs, and with my sagging boobs
I love Thee with a love I’ll never lose.

 

 

How do you write a love poem?  Well, for the purposes of Valentine’s Day, with a light heart and a playful spirit.  (Or by going online and looking at the dozens of tutorials there).  Have faith in your natural powers of expression (and don’t worry about punctuation).  You are sure to come out with a poem that says what you want it to say in a way that means a lot to you and the person you love.

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